Once upon a time in India there was a Kiwi. His name was Nanda. Nanda was a kiwi of New Zealand descent rather than the fruit kind. Before stumbling across his acquaintance it was his better half who I met first- the lovely Lucy.
Nanda, according to his better half, was working on the road. The road as in the figurative road, the one he traveled around India on. Throughout his trip Nanda had cartoons to draw and deadlines to meet. As is the lifestyle of a freelance cartoonist for a popular surfing magazine.
Lucy had thought Nanda should be working harder. A tiff ensued. Lucy was seeking alone time and leaving Nanda ‘to it’ when we met.
Hours into knowing all about Nanda, there was still no face to the name. It was clear that despite the tiff she was still rather besotted with boy named after the mythical Lord Krishna’s father. Nanda was only the boy from her friendly banter at this point.
India is special. Often in a good way, but just as often in a bad way. There’s a lot of love going around and, supposedly, a lot of healing. But India also forces people into situations and conversations that would otherwise not have materialized until, ever. Toilet/stomach/illness related conversations in particular. On the plus side you’ll grow that much closer with your travel partner because of it.
It’s not uncommon to speak of these with virtual strangers. Nanda, (after finally meeting the myth, the legend) was, for some reason, the first and last person I spoke to about using a squat toilet. Make that a toilet-paper-less, toilet-less toilet. “But how exactly do you go about it?” I asked as if it were a conversation about something socially acceptable like doing the splits.
“So you pull your pants down past your knees, or just take them off altogether. When you’re done, use the jug and water to wash yourself” he explained, half motioning what he was saying. “I don’t know about Lucy” (perhaps he thought it might differ depending on gender) “but I use my hand just to make sure.” I probably just nodded in response. There wasn’t much left to say- I’d been schooled.
The average person snaps a photo of something worth making a memory of. Nanda draws it. I’d have a hard time explaining his drawings with my words. Its better you take a look at them yourself. Find some here on his Instagram.
Nanda was raised a Hari Krishner, or at least in a way that would make a Hari Krishner proud. He has never eaten meat in his entire life. And despite being home schooled, he is more at ease in a social situation than you or me. His sense of humour is also something I’d have trouble describing. Perhaps return to his Instagram to get a whiff of it.
Thanks Nanda for sharing your Indian toilet wisdom with me. And thanks to you and your lovely Lucy for allowing us into your stumbled upon Mumbai apartment. The one that a random expat lent to you on a whim. It was luxurious and for a moment I forgot I was in India. I’m sorry for calling you a Hipster.